Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?

Personally, I love many things the Internet offers. When I talk about the Internet, I refer to the surface web, not the deep dark web. I consider myself a very naive Internet user, who just found out about the different layers of the Internet a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea about the scary, dangerous parts it has. I like to use the Internet since it helps me learn and expand my knowledge as an individual, as a mom and a teacher.

Having said that, I also noticed that the Internet adds a lot of stress to my life. I would like to start with my life as a mom. Many of you might judge my parenting skills after this blog post, but I often notice, that I am not strong enough when it comes to setting limits to my children’s screen time. If I am busy doing house work, school work, that we often have to continue during our “free evenings”, taking university classes or doing homework, my children keep themselves entertained by playing video games or being on their phones. The guilt that my kids being on the Internet is giving me as a parent is indescribable. It often makes me mad as well since it is so strong holding my children’s interest and attention, that often times they don’t hear me or they have no free hands helping me, since these big smartphones do not fit into our pockets any more.

As a teacher, I see both the positive and negative side of the Internet. Being a non-native speaker who teaches EAL, having access to the Internet gives me a sense of calm and relief, since it is there to help me communicate with my students through a translating app, offers pictures to help my students understand words and concepts when we are stuck, as well as it provides a huge amount of materials and tools to make learning and teaching more engaging. On the other hand, I think it can be a distraction for our students especially when looking for information when writing a paper or working on a project. As the video, “Single-tasking is the new multi-tasking” suggested, having multiple tabs open makes it very easy to get side tracked. Staying on task requires a lot of self-control that often times even adults struggle with. When working on the Internet, with the constant notifications, it is literally impossible to focus on one task.

Before COVID 19, I viewed the Internet as a nice addition that we can use to make our learning and teaching more engaging and rich. During the Supplemental Learning schools were offering, it became the tool that caused the most frustration and stress in our household. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn, be up to date, and use wonderful tools but the many-many hours of shoving information into our brains about how to use Seesaw, TEAMS, OneNote, and the list is endless, I felt that everything was coming so fast at me that I couldn’t really digest it. I need time to learn how to use and implement these tools purposefully. As my classmate Catherine said, I often feel like my head is spinning and having access to the Internet is taking a toll on my mental health.

Reflecting on multitasking, the main cause for me having multiple tabs open is that when having an endless to-do list, this gives me the feeling that I can achieve more in the same amount of time. My brain is always in a million places, thinking about the various needs of my students, my children and myself. And if I think about the Internet being a productivity tool or an endless series of distraction, I feel it definitely takes away from our time to build meaningful relationships. When I cannot have a quite meal with my children, or a good night sleep because of an email I receive on a Sunday evening, I start doubting the benefits of the Internet. At this point, I am very much looking forward to a COVID19 free time, to be able to immerse myself at my own pace into exploring and implementing the best tools the Internet offers in order to feel truly productive, since as Catherine said “Productivity tools are only helpful if the user has a plan to incorporate the tools in their daily routines”. And for now, I am soaking in Nancy‘s advice and taking one step at a time towards becoming a Productivity Ninja.

3 thoughts on “Is the Internet really a productivity tool or merely an endless series of distractions?

  1. I am right with you in regards to parenting and having my kids on devices more than I’d like. Sometimes survival mode is where we function. Having said that, there are many benefits to the things we use and consume. It is how we use them that is imperative. Is it productively used or is it something that we use for leisure/enjoyment? Both are fine, but it’s the line of how much we put more weight on that determines if it’s a distraction and waste of our time or if it helps us to have more time to do the things we should be focusing on. This is a never ending battle that is constantly being reflected on and adjusted. For our professions, being online is expected, but I think it’s important that we model and teach our students/kids the value and detriments of the connected world we live in. Online and offline environments are going to co-exist but the balance of the two is what’s the difficult part to identify for not only ourselves but those that we have an influence on.

  2. Great post Melinda, I think that our internet use has to have a purpose. I also have taken the tips that Nancy has shared in her vlog, and I am excited to implement some of those tips at work. Sometimes we need to take a step back and take a look at how we are using the technology, and how we can improve our focus. I really liked the concept of the Pomodoro technique which encourages us to focus on 1 task at a time for 25 minutes, with no distractions. Thanks for the read,

  3. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences Melinda! I think that screen time is a challenge for many parents these days. I think even as teachers the amount of time we spend on computers in a day is quite substantial. I think we all need some time to learn and implement all the new tools being developed purposefully (something I am enjoying about these tech classes).

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